IU Northwest School of Nursing partners with Franciscan Health
The person who is with you 24/7 when you need care in a hospital is a nurse. We rely on nurses to provide care with compassion and competency.
But, recent trends in healthcare across the United States show significant nursing shortages. According to the American Nurses Association, retirements are outpacing new nurses entering the workforce, thus creating a significant number of unfilled positions.
That shortage has left an undeniable impact on Northwest Indiana, but the IU Northwest School of Nursing is aiming to ease that burden.
Thanks to a partnership with Franciscan Health, IU Northwest nursing students can participate in a Nurse Internship program being offered through Franciscan Health facilities.
Nurse interns participate in a paid internship with Franciscan and receive no-interest loans during their last two to three semesters of school. Students who perform well in their internship are offered a nursing position upon graduation. The nurse is expected to work at a Franciscan facility for two years after graduation and by doing so their loan will be forgiven.
Crystal Shannon, interim director of the School of Nursing, said this program is a huge win for everyone. “Franciscan has always been an excellent partner, allowing our students to get hands on clinical practice,” she said. “Our nurses having the ability to continue with Franciscan seemed like a natural process.”
Students in the program get a wide range of experience and have the chance to delve deeper into the areas that interest them most. For Shannon, one of the most important things students gain is the connection between theory and practice.
“We’ve seen evidence that suggests when students make theory and practice connections effectively, we have better patient outcomes. It makes Indiana a much healthier state,” she said.
Sharing knowledge in a real-world setting
The internship provides students and nurses the rare opportunity to interact on a one-on-one basis. Ina Hodges, Director of Educational Services at Franciscan Health Dyer/Hammond/Munster, said the supervising RN preceptor teaches students to think critically; prioritize patient care; communicate effectively with patients, families and other healthcare providers; and work collaboratively with multiple disciplines within the hospital setting.
“It’s benefitting the [supervising] nurse, who can share her knowledge with the intern, and that intern learns how to care for multiple patients,” Hodges said.
Not only does the internship allow students the chance to make a difference in patients’ lives, but it also presents them with an opportunity to better the whole of Franciscan Health.
Clinical Educator Student Placement and Intern Coordinator, Laura Dosen said that this first group of nurse interns will bring in new ideas to help us improve and grow the program. “These interns are going to help us figure out what supports them and helps them to grow as a professional. Things we may not have realized are missing can be added for future cohorts,” she said.
Dosen is excited to induct IU Northwest students into the Franciscan family. She emphasized that this initiative is available at all 12 of the Franciscan Hospitals in the event that after graduation the intern moves outside of Northwest Indiana.
“Our goal is to keep them with Franciscan, but sometimes life happens,” Dosen said. “The Franciscan Nurse Internship program creates a win for both us and the students’ futures.”
Gaining confidence and exploring new avenues
While the promise of pay, internship loan forgiveness, and a virtually-guaranteed job after graduation are clear selling points, IU Northwest student Shaina Williams cited building confidence as her main reason for participating in the internship.
“It will open up opportunities for me to get more comfortable on different units of the hospital,” she said. “I’m excited to do my training on different floors.”
Williams wants to see it all, but she’s highly anticipating the chance to work in the surgical unit. After completing the internship and her tenure at Franciscan, she aspires to go to medical school and become an anesthesiologist.
For Williams, continual field experience is key. She said that getting rusty over the summer is easy and working at Franciscan will afford her the opportunity to learn beyond the classroom.
At the end of the day, the Franciscan Nurse Internship is exciting for everyone—students, faculty, current nurses, and the wider Northwest Indiana community.
Thanks to this Franciscan program, the path toward making a difference in community health has never been more accessible…and promising.